February 13, 2005

ALREADY PAYING DIVIDENDS (via David Hill, The Bronx):

Rebel Dean inspires gays in Florida: A Democratic caucus meeting in Orlando sets its sights on revitalizing unity in the gay community. (Tania deLuzuriaga, February 13, 2005, Orlando Sentinel)

With a rebel now heading the Democratic Party, Florida's gay Democrats vowed Saturday to be puppets of their party no longer and to bring social issues to the front of their party's concerns.

"I don't want to reach across the aisle; I want to win," said Orlando City Commissioner Patty Sheehan, who is openly gay. "Republicans used our community as a wedge in the [2004] election."

Sheehan was one of about 40 Democrats from across the state to attend the quarterly meeting of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transsexual Caucus of the Florida Democratic Party in Orlando. Agreeing that a lack of organization hurt Democrats in November, they said unity will be vital if they are to overcome roadblocks to gay civil rights.

"We have four more years with [President] George [Bush], and we have a big X on our heads," caucus President Michael Albetta said.

Already, a group with ties to conservative Christians has launched a petition to ban gay marriage in Florida. The group hopes voters in 2006 will amend the state constitution to declare that marriage is a union between "only one man and one woman" and that no other kind of union is equivalent to marriage.

State law bans same-sex marriage, but an amendment would remove the Legislature's authority to change that.

In addition to social issues, the caucus is focused on the re-election campaign of Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson and the Florida governor's race, both in 2006.

November's election, in which the issue of gay marriage figured prominently, "was a real wake-up for a lot of gays," said delegate Warren Day of Pompano Beach. "A lot of us hadn't realized how hostile things were. We thought we were beyond that."

We had no idea how much average Americans oppose homosexuality, but now we'll make it the focus of Democratic politics. There's a winning strategy.

Posted by Orrin Judd at February 13, 2005 5:28 PM

Karl Rove pours himself three fingers of Bourbon County's best, adds a splash of branch, takes a sip and smiles. His plan is working.

Posted by: Robert Schwartz at February 13, 2005 6:44 PM

Sen. Bill Nelson voted against Tort Reform last week. Starting to wonder how serious he is about running again in 2006. If he opposes Social Security reform, he might as well hang it up.

The days when the elderly were the key to Florida are over. I'm in Palm Beach County but, even here, Republicans are on the up-tick.

Posted by: David at February 13, 2005 6:45 PM

The affluent elderly, who make up a very large percentage of the Florida elderly, tend to have a fairly decent understanding of basic finance. I'm sure this is especially true in Palm Beach County where lots of folks were small businesspeople in the NY Metro area. The economically ignorant nostrums being peddled by the Dems won't sell there.

Where it will sell is among culturally conservative, lower income, less well-educated seniors in the marginal Blue and Red States like Minnesota, Iowa and West Virginia.

Posted by: Bart at February 13, 2005 8:14 PM

This goes way beyong mere Quos Deus vastat (or vult perdere, if you like that version better), and starts to look like a conspiracy to throw the nest election.

Posted by: Lou Gots at February 13, 2005 9:13 PM

Republicans didn't use the gay community as a wedge, the gays did.

Posted by: Sandy P at February 13, 2005 9:49 PM

Well, the left actually used it as a pander squeeze. The courts made them feel all goofy/woozy, Andrew made them feel ennobled, and then they lost at the polls 25-75.

Posted by: jim hamlen at February 13, 2005 10:18 PM